Carriers' Contingency Plans
All of the major carriers are prepared for the hurricane season with contingency plans. Here is a look:
DHL, Plantation, FL (www.dhl.com):
According to Dan Ludwig, the newly appointed senior vice president to oversee DHL's new office of humanitarian affairs and emergency management for DHL in the Americas:
"In the aftermath of last year, everyone is performing a 'gut check' with regard to one's own preparedness. DHL is no different in this regard as we are focused on improvement of our overall emergency management program, which is founded on a four-part architecture including: plan, prepare, respond and cover."
Mr. Ludwig said planning involves strengthening the company's business continuity plans and identifying business-critical resources including people, physical assets, systems and communication.
Preparation, he said, involves testing the plans through process tools such as tabletop exercises and site audits, particularly around specific disaster scenarios.
"A critical success factor is the matching of resources to the severity of the event," he said. "If this gets out of balance either way, then we've failed. Too much resource is inefficient, while not enough resource can be disastrous."
As for responding, Mr. Ludwig said that like most companies, "we take a multifunctional command center approach toward managing during a disaster. In a large global business, there may be several command centers being used to manage each business unit and sub-units. There is an opportunity to coordinate across the business, especially where resources may exist close by an affected area (once again, enabling better matching of resource to the severity)."
Finally, Mr. Ludwig said the recovery phase includes helping people get back to work, and it may involve providing relief supplies, monetary assistance, family counseling or other direct intervention-type of activities.
FedEx, Memphis, TN (www.fedex.com):
According to Ryan Furby, a spokesman for FedEx:
"As a global company, on any given day, in any part of the world, weather or natural disasters can present challenges to its service. Based on the company's extensive experience in the transportation industry, FedEx has developed contingency plans for a variety of situations. FedEx also has its own meteorology staff that provides up-to-the-minute weather forecasts for very specific FedEx locations, often giving it a head start in implementing contingency plans."
U.S. Postal Service, Washington, DC (www.usps.com):
According to Joanne Veto, a USPS spokeswoman:
"The postal service has several contingency plans in place that address natural and manmade disasters. Each plan is comprehensive and detailed. Our hurricane plans call for protecting our employees, the mail and our property."
Ms. Veto said specifics of those plans include:
* In advance of a storm, "we begin diverting mail to nearby processing and distribution facilities. Depending on storm projections, those plants could be anywhere from a few miles to hundreds of miles away. For example, for Hurricane Katrina, most New Orleans mail was trucked to Houston."
* The USPS has ongoing employee briefings about hurricane preparedness, both for their work lives and their personal lives. "As a storm approaches, we increase the frequency of those talks," Ms. Veto said. "Messages include safety tips and instructions how to get a hold of the postal service afterward so we can locate all our employees."
* To protect the agency's property, the USPS also will "move our vehicles to upper levels of parking facilities; board up our post offices; and secure accountable items, such as stamps."
Finally, Ms. Veto added, "We work closely with local law enforcement and emergency personnel to quickly re-establish operations as an essential government service."
UPS, Atlanta (www.ups.com):
According to Steve Holmes, a spokesman for UPS:
"Our risk management group handles disaster recovery in terms of operations at the corporate level. We have had an operating plan in place for some time, before Katrina, and we're tweaking it based on [what we learned] from the storms last year, and we constantly do that."
Mr. Holmes said that in general, "our focus is on three primary areas, and there are specific teams that focus on these: our people, customers and community. Most of the work is done at the local level in the affected district and region, [and] prior to any storm, [employees] go back through the standard operating plan and adjust based on what they know at the time. For example, our Southwest region had Katrina and Rita. Although they were still in the throes of dealing with Katrina just weeks before, they still went back through the SOP for Rita. There's never a casual 'been there, done that' attitude, although our business is built on contingency planning."